Because ratings do generally indicate the quality of the playoffs for one. Even hockey fans aren't tuning in because they aren't interested. We need people to watch hockey to A) keep it on TV and B) keep enough revenue coming in to keep the NHL solvent.
It's not that hard. We don't care about other people accepting our sport, we just want to keep interest high enough to guarantee a high quality league.
So when the mentally fragile Canucks were having an epic meltdown in Boston last year, those games got higher ratings because the hockey was better? Or when the Sharks and Canucks were having a dive off in the conference finals, that was better hockey?
Los Angeles is not exactly a massive market for hockey and gets little national attention because of the games being on so late. The east coast bias is real. Even among Wings fans, who are pretty knowledgeable andwatch a lot of Western Conference hockey, how many have actually seen the Kings play before this playoff run? How many had seen how good Kopitar and Quick are or could even name more than 3 or 4 Kings players?
I'm sure the quality of hockey factors in some small way, but it has almost everything to do with the popularity of the teams involved.
Either way, I could care less about ratings. Here's hoping the the Kings finish it tonight!